The Eagle and Turkey Parable.  Flexibility.

In the parable The Eagle and Turkey Parable- ten turkeys learned the secret of flying- Five applied what they had learned, transformed into Winged Winners, to fly and soar home in glory, reward and success. The other five turkeys never applied what they had learned and remained wobbling walkers, destined to remain scorned grounded wobbling turkeys.

What made the difference between the five turkeys that applied what they had learned and were transformed into Winged Winners and the five turkeys who did not apply what they had learned and remained Wobbling Walkers turkeys?

The Wobbling Walkers gave many excuses and reasons for their failure to apply what they had learned. None of them were valid.

Not flexible enough to adjust to flying

Flexibility is the ability to respond to and change in new situations, to be resilient and supple. It is the awareness that there is no one absolute answer to any problem. It is the mindfulness that there is more than one alternative

The parable

“Never in our history has it been as important as it is today to adjust to rapid technology and environmental changes,” the Winged Leader remarked. “It takes flexibility to adjust to new skills. To stay the old tried-and-true path is to give up this incredible opportunity we now have of flying.”

The Wobbling Walkers disagreed. They wanted to keep the old traditional ways regardless of the fact that they had learned to fly. Old is better than new, they believed.

The Wobbling Leader stated, “We now realize, after the training, that flying is breaking from our ways of living, and we do not see that applying our skills and flying is right for the community.”

The Winged Leader let out a sigh. “You all see yourselves as protectors of tradition. But you are attached to the old ways of doing things, walking and hobbling, grounded for life. Let go of it. See the future. In these times of change, those of us who are open to learning and applying our knowledge and skills inherit the earth. Those who are stuck in the past will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. Change is the only constant. To hold to something blindly from yesterday that is proven wrong today is irresponsible and stupid and a sure ticket to disaster.”

The Winged Leader ended with, “It is the hardening of our attitudes not our arteries that will lead us to failure. It has been said, ‘Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.’”

The Wobbling Walkers looked at each and rolled their eyes.What in the world had those Winged Winners been drinking?”they wondered. “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape. What did that mean, remarked the Wobbling Leader.

The Wobbling Walkers agreed to hold steady to the ways of the past, and they walked back home.

The Winged Winners remained flexible in their thinking. They welcomed this exciting opportunity to apply their learning and flew back home.


Whatever “flexibility” means to you, it doesn’t mean wishy-washy, being weak, wimpy, or passive. So what is it then? It’s knowing that change is inherent in all that we do, on a daily basis. While we can be passionate about the standards that we believe to be true and sacred, we can at the same time be flexible in the ways that we reach and maintain them. Once you’ve set a goal stay open to possible modifications to the goal as well as finding a path to reach the goal.

In our parable we see that the Wobbling Walkers were unable to adapt to change, were unwilling to let go of their old ways of thinking, thereby forfeiting their opportunity to fly and soar and make a wonderful difference in their lives and in their community.

In Your Bridge to a Better Future, John Maxwell marvels that the Golden Gate Bridge has withstood everything that Mother Nature has thrown at it since being built in 1937. The bridge’s ability to stand strong and stable and to function through the years “is found in both its amazing flexibility (it sways over 20 feet at the center of its one-mile suspension span) and in it’s bedrock foundation, as its pillars are embedded 220 feet beneath the sea’s surface in a granite foundation,” Maxwell writes. “Here we have a beautiful example of tremendous flexibility combined masterfully with an uncompromising foundation.”

In 2005 While I was in Jordan one of our guides demonstrated the strength of the ancient standing pillars by placing a coin between the wedges of two pillars and having us notice that the pillars moved ever so slightly, giving them, similar to the Golden Gate Bridge, the necessary flexibility to withstand the years of nature’s wear and tear on them.

Action Steps

  • Look at what you are attached to that is taking your time, energy, and resources and giving you little or nothing back. Get rid of it.
  • What beliefs do you have that restrict your success? Let them go


  • Give up having to be right all the time. When appropriate, admit you are wrong and be flexible in your doings.
  • Give up one rigidly held belief that is not serving you well and work to replace it with something new and challenging.
  • Be firm in your thoughts and commitments yet open to new possibilities. Go with the flow.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Allow yourself the flexibility to try something new; work to create a more balanced and peaceful, fulfilling life by relating to new experiences and opportunities.

Words of Wisdom

Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” —Tom Robbins

“Thus, flexibility, as displayed by water, is a sign of life. Rigidity, its opposite, is an indicator of death.” —Anthony Lawlor

“Be clear about your goal but be flexible about the process of achieving it.” —Brian Tracy

“Let no one think that flexibility and a predisposition to compromise is a sign of weakness or a sell-out.” —Paul Kagame

“There is nothing permanent except change.” —Heraclitus

“The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn.” —Anonymous

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” or “The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.” —Japanese proverb